Sunday, 6 March 2016

A Man a Day, Tony Blair, and half a dozen 70kg Women

I had a slight moment of impulsiveness last week. I know it wasn’t much and really don’t know why I did it. I was in the lounge at Dubai waiting to catch my plane home, when the newspaper rack caught my eye. Among all many newspapers from around the world were copies of the Guardian and Daily Mail, the latter was printed that day in Dubai. Neither papers' approach to reporting the news appeals to me much. I did know that my Mum and Dad like the Daily Mail, so making sure nobody I knew was watching, I reached out and sneaked a copy into my bag. Sitting on the plane waiting to take off, I started to read it. What I found was an absolute treasure chest full of life advice riches.

The header on the front page made the claim it knew what men should eat to avoid prostate cancer. Inside, there was a 4 page pullout recommending a daily diet that consisted of at least half plant based food (tick for me) having up to 3 tablespoons of flax seed a day (no idea what flax seed is, so no points there) and to avoid eggs and milk (again no points there). It was a fascinating article. There was even a passing reference to the Skene’s Gland, the female equivalent of the male prostate. 

However that was the least of it. I found that eating kale was as good as running 300 miles; that happiness can break your heart as well as sadness; 400 people a day are admitted to hospital with sepsis; of the need to be aware of the danger of old cigarette smoke that lurks deep inside our homes; that people in Scotland may need to retire 2 years before the English because of poorer health; that consuming just 2 energy drinks a day increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks; that 3 in 4 of us only ever leave our desk for tea or to go to the loo; that allegedly it was Blair who was responsible for ruining the NHS; and that Prosecco rots your teeth.

There was also a very interesting story about what 6 very different looking women had in common – My interest was captured by the picture. The common shared factor was they all weighed 70kg (11 stone in old money). It wasn't clear how many of the Daily Mail stories were evidence based. But I found many of the stories compelling, and it was 60 minutes of condensed but intense reading. Thinking about this and after speaking with an internationally renowned scientist (see last week’s blog for details) who absolutely believed in the educational benefits of Wikipedia, I was left with a sense that we really do need to think about what our educational system needs to offer contemporary students.

And last week colleagues from my old School hosted the first ‘Wecommunities get together’ to explore the future of social media in healthcare. It was a crowd designed/funded/delivered event that attracted 250 people, many of whom were major influencers and commentators on health and social care issues. All the delegates were keen to learn, share and innovate! I was in Abu Dhabi at the time, but able to lurk and follow the amazing event through the use of the #WGT16 hashtag and the wonder of the internet. 

After eating breakfast in the sunshine and 30c heat, I left Abu Dhabi last Thursday. 24 hours and 3500 miles later, in Manchester, I got up to a blizzard that lasted all day. Brrrr, it was cold, but there was a ray of sunshine though. I was privileged to open the Association of Advanced Practice Educators 2016 conference. This was a more familiar and traditional conference get together, although the conference focus was right up to date: it focused on considering the Impact of Inter-Professional Advanced Practitioners on Service Design and Health and Social Care. Unlike all the health related stories in the Daily Mail, I think both of these conferences are likely to result in a much greater outcome for us all. And I am so proud to be associated with the work of both groups!

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